Jeremy Hunt has revealed more details about his diagnosis with cancer after noticing a mole on his head which “grew and grew”.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the chancellor also shared how his mother and father died from cancer and his brother was also diagnosed with the disease.
But he said he was “blessed” to catch his condition relatively early – and now hopes UK research can help “lift the curse of cancer from humanity in the future” and said he wants to invest more into exploring treatment and diagnoses.
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“I had a mole in my head that just grew and grew,” Mr Hunt, 56, said.
“I was a cabinet minister at the time, not in my current job, but it was obviously the first time that the ‘C word’ had been used in terms of my own health so that makes you sit up.
“But I was blessed. It was not a life-threatening cancer and it was caught relatively early.
“I had superb treatment from the NHS to remove it, but I am very aware of members of my own family who have had much tougher battles against cancer, and I know that’s what families are going through up and down the country. My brother is doing OK, but like many families who have cancer, it is a life-changing thing.”
Mr Hunt’s father, Sir Nicholas Hunt, died in 2013 aged 82, while his mother Lady Meriel Hunt died aged 84 last year – both due to cancer.
His brother Charlie, 53, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer known as sarcoma in 2020.
Mr Hunt, who was previously health secretary and foreign secretary, said: “My treatment was superb, but I know more and more of us are getting cancer so that’s why we need to continue to invest more.
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“One of the things we need to focus on is early diagnosis because if you pick up cancers early, it’s much more likely that you’ll completely cure someone.”
He continued: “It’s about half the cost for the NHS if you pick up cancer at stage one or two rather than three and four so that’s why diagnostic centres are very important.
“Basically being able to get people early access to surgery is still the most effective way of getting rid of cancer.”
The chancellor said that, while his cancer was easy to notice, it is those which are less visible which people need to be more wary of.
“You’re more likely to find a lump in your breast than you are the symptoms of prostate cancer and bowel cancer or oesophageal cancer,” he said. “That’s why they can often be so dangerous.
“Obviously I’m very aware from my time as health secretary that half of us will get cancer in our lifetimes, but the encouraging thing is this country really is one of the global leaders when it comes to cancer research.
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“We are doing some groundbreaking research here which could lift the curse of cancer from humanity in the future, which is why I’m all in favour of anything we can possibly do to raise money to support more research into cancer and raise awareness of what’s possible.”
Mr Hunt and his younger brother Charlie have run the London Marathon to raise money for Sarcoma UK and the Royal Surrey Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre, as well as a series of runs and bike rides.